The Mission is one of San Francisco’s largest neighborhoods and former home to the city’s once-thriving garment assembly sector. But fashion hasn’t left this diverse cultural hot spot, which is home to several designer ateliers, indie boutiques featuring their wares and a number of vintage clothing stores.
Cafes, used bookshops and art galleries flavor a palm tree-lined promenade along hilly Dolores Street, and old movie marquees are spaced among the Latino and Caribbean bodegas on Mission Street, where the annual Carnaval parade this year will be May 25.
Besides cheaper rents and being the warmest neighborhood, the Mission is also home to some of the city’s best food. WWD asked a few local designers for their favorite haunts, and, of course, what they’re sketching for fall.
Julienne Weston (westonwear), whose Weston Wear collection features fluid feminine layered skirts paired with oversized draped men’s cardigans, has been hanging out at Spork, a whimsically designed bistro that’s taken over Kentucky Fried Chicken at 1058 Valencia Street, where the old fryer ventilation hood has been transformed into the dining room light. (Spork refers to the former tenant’s plastic spoon-fork combo.) “My favorite bite is mussels and pork on a spork, followed by a root beer float and heavenly beignets,” Weston said. “Afterward we waddle on down to The Double Dutch on 16th Street,” specializing in martinis and with a huge collection of vintage ghetto blasters.
Saffron Rare Threads designer Priya Saraswati (saffronrarethreads.com), whose upcoming collection has funnel-neck coats, draped knit tops and dresses in wine, deep purple and chocolate, likes to nip into Bi-Rite Creamery, 3692 18th Street. “Besides the salted caramel ice cream, which is ridiculous, there’s also the thickest, richest hot chocolate served. It dissolves all creative blocks,” Saraswati asserted. She also recommends Cha-Ya, 762 Valencia Street, for its “amazing Zen-like” vegetarian menu that reminds her of Tokyo.
Yugala Priti (yugalapriti.com), who creates one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by the drape of a sari under her own name, stops into Mission Beach Café, 198 Guerrero, for its local Blue Bottle organic coffee and cannele French cakes. For organic northern California produce, Priti haunts the Rainbow Grocery Co-op, 1745 Folsom Street, which also features organic bulk teas and herbs and runs a biodiesel fueling spot.
Mandalyn Begay and sisters Angie and Maggie Kim of oda (odeastyle.com), are creating fanciful eco-friendly dresses, skirts and tops with a Tokyo-pop feel for fall. They recommend the pork tenderloin and tapas at Medjool Café, 2516 Mission Street. “The space is beautiful and there’s a sky terrace where you can enjoy drinks with a great view of the city at night under heat lamps,” noted Angie Kim. For dessert, there’s Tartine Bakery, with a line often out the door (but it moves quickly, she said). Angie recommends the bread pudding or key lime tart.
Heather Williams (laliclothing.com), who designs sturdy kids’ apparel with retro prints under the Lali label, fills up at Universal Café, 2814 19th Street. “For brunch I love their selection from sweet to savory,” Williams said. The organic menu includes french toast with peach compote and toasted pecans, or a croque madame — an egg, prosciutto cotto and egg sandwich. For lunch, Williams favors the Napoli pies from Pizzeria Delfina, 3611 18th Street, where she also savors antipasti like grilled fennel with bottarga and lemon oil and Monterey Bay sardines on crostini.
Estrella Tadeo (estrellatadeo.com), who designs a namesake urban-inspired men’s suit and sportswear line and is a member of the Mission Statement designer cooperative, unwinds and grabs a bite at Bar Bambino, 2931 16th Street. “The branzino is exquisite,” Tadeo said, also recommending the artisan salumi and cheese plates, served until midnight.